Plzeň, European Capital of Culture

From beer capital to city of culture: Will 2015 change the west Bohemian city's image?

When you say Plzeň (Pilsen), beer is the first thing that comes to most people's minds. The west Bohemian city now has the chance to change its public perception from beer capital to city of culture, however, having yesterday being selected as the 2015 European Capital of Culture.

Ostrava, in the east of the country, was the other Czech candidate competing for the prestigious title of EU culture capital, but this city of heavy industry and coal mining lost out by just one point.

A jury consisting of 11 members (two were missing) made several visits to both cities, carrying out detailed on-site inspections of their plans and visions.

Plzeň, with a population of 167,000, had submitted a highly ambitious plan, which includes building a new theatre and a museum of design and environment. The city also plans to turn the old Světovar brewery into a multi-genre cultural centre. Its slogan: "Pilsen Open Up".

The nomination is to be approved first by Czech Culture Minister Jiří Besser and then by the EU's Council of Ministers.

Plzeň is the second Czech city to become Europe's cultural capital and will share the title with the Belgian city of Mons.

Europe's culture capitals gain access to EU funding (roughly 1.5 million euros) to develop their infrastructure. They stage cultural programs that showcase their culture and history throughout the year. Should the designated cities fail to meet these plans, however, the funding is withheld.

This year's capitals of culture are Istanbul in Turkey, the Ruhr Valley region in Germany and Pecs in Hungary.

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